A Malaysian firefighter dubbed the "snake whisperer" has died four days after he was bitten by a wild cobra while responding to a call to catch the aggressive reptile, an official said Saturday.
The spitting cobra bit 33-year-old Abu Zarin Hussin on Monday in the central state of Pahang, where he subsequently succumbed its venom in hospital on Friday.
The firefighter had gained celebrity status in Malaysia for his ability to closely handle deadly snakes.
He was pictured in photos and videos widely circulated online kissing king cobra snakes on the mouth, and appeared on TV show Asia's Got Talent last year rubbing his nose against a serpent's head.
Khiruddin Drahman, director of Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department, told AFP that Abu Zarin had responded to a public call while off-duty with his wife.
"The snake he caught was a wild spitting cobra. A single bite can even kill an elephant," he said.
"We lost a talented officer. It is a tragic event."
Firefighters are regularly sent to deal with venomous snakes in populated areas of Malaysia. Abu Zarin was renowned for teaching other junior officers how to catch the deadly reptiles.
He learnt his snake-handling skills from his father, whom he called a "snake charmer", and started training the creatures in 2007, the Star Online said.
Some three years ago he was in coma for two days due to a cobra bite.
Two years ago, the firefighter emerged as an internet star after it was falsely reported that he had married a snake because he believed the serpent was his dead girlfriend reincarnated.
His body was buried in his hometown in the eastern Kelantan state.